Favorite

Partisan blindness 

One problem with blind partisanship is that it can lead you to betray your own principles and the well-being of the people you represent.

So it is with the invigorated Republican minority in the Arkansas legislature and the national health-insurance reform law. The Republicans are intent on stymieing anything that is associated with the new federal law, which they always call "Obamacare," no matter if it is something they might otherwise support.

The part of the law they commonly attack is the part borrowed from old Republican health plans, requiring sizable employers and individuals who are uninsured to either buy health insurance or pay a tax to support health services for the uninsured. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will create exchanges supervised by the federal Department of Health and Human Services, where employers and individuals starting in 2014 can shop for a private health plan that suits them and is affordable.

As a sop to conservatives, Congress gave states the option of skipping the national exchange and setting up the exchanges themselves and regulating the companies and agents, as the states do already for existing health insurance and other forms of insurance. If a state chooses not to establish its own market for individual and small-group insurance, then people in that state will purchase a plan through the national market. The premium rates and conditions and the servicing of complaints then would be handled in Washington as well.

It makes sense for a state like Arkansas to run the market instead of letting Washington do it. As a relatively low-cost state for medical care, Arkansas ought to get cheaper premiums and better conditions for employers and individuals than the national exchange likely will offer. New York might want to let the feds do it.

So Gov. Beebe, no fan of the federal law (he worries that it will impose higher Medicaid costs on the state government in about 2019), wants the state to do the job, if the law stands up in the courts, as it almost certainly will. A bill would give the state Insurance Department the authority to avoid the national exchange and create the private insurance market for Arkansas employers and individuals, set the terms and regulate the insurance companies that offer the plans and the agents who sell them.

You would think the Republicans would be clamoring to sign up. "We, not Washington, will run our business in Arkansas, thank you."

But they have blocked the bill in the House Insurance and Commerce Committee, with the help of weak-kneed Democrats who worry that they might be seen as siding on something with the black president with the Asian-sounding name. I don't know, but I would guess that President Obama would be more than happy for Arkansas to let Washington manage the new health insurance market for Arkansans.

The Republicans seem to think that if the legislature does not enact the insurance-exchange bill then the federal law would never be implemented in Arkansas even if the U. S. Supreme Court declares every bit of the law constitutional. That bit of ignorance is not surprising. The Republican critics have never evinced any grasp of the law, relying instead on the talking points that were drafted before the legislation was written.

Sen. Gilbert Baker, the Republican leader, said last week: "We are not going to be implementing the federal health-care law. There is no strength in the Arkansas Legislature to enact Obamacare." He said it was debatable whether the law could be implemented in Arkansas if the legislature doesn't adopt the legislation.

Utter nonsense. The exchange bill merely exercises Arkansas's option to run the insurance market itself rather than the federal government, if and when the law is ruled constitutional.

Its defeat will accomplish only one thing: Arkansas businesses and individuals will be buying health insurance through the federal exchange supervised by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services rather than from the locally devised and regulated market.

Those who favored a centrally controlled health insurance system and wanted a public option (they are a good part of the polling majority opposing "Obamacare") may side with the Republicans on this one. States generally have a poor record of regulating the insurance industry although Arkansas, at least in the past several years, is an exception.

The Republicans and timorous Democrats will likely kill the exchange bill, thus significantly magnifying the federal government's hand in health care delivery in Arkansas, but if you like the idea of universal health insurance this will not be a real setback. Yes, insurance may prove a trifle costlier for employers and individuals and more onerous for the industry and consumers than if the state were running the show, but this is tea-party government. We have to get used to it.

Favorite

Speaking of Health Care Reform

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Ernest Dumas

  • Fake news

    So fed up was young Edgar Welch of Salisbury, N.C., that Hillary Clinton was getting away with running a child-sex ring that he grabbed a couple of guns last Sunday, drove 360 miles to the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington, D.C., where Clinton was supposed to be holding the kids as sex slaves, and fired his AR-15 into the floor to clear the joint of pizza cravers and conduct his own investigation of the pedophilia syndicate of the former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state.
    • Dec 8, 2016
  • Fake economics

    Fake news is a new phenomenon in the world of politics and policy, but hokey economic scholarship has been around as long as Form 1040 and is about as reliable as the news hoaxes that enlivened the presidential campaign.
    • Dec 1, 2016
  • China in charge

    Let's turn to foreign affairs to see how we might calm the flood of anxieties over the coming Donald Trump presidency.
    • Nov 24, 2016
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Religion as excuse upends Constitution

    Tirades over religious liberty since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriages nationwide have awakened the ghost of James Madison, the author of the constitutional doctrine on the matter, and it isn't happy that his effort to protect religious inquiry in America is being corrupted.
    • Jul 9, 2015
  • Guns, God and gays

    Many more mass shootings like the one last week in Roseburg, Ore., will stain the future and no law will pass that might reduce the carnage. That is not a prediction but a fact of life that is immune even to Hillary Clinton.
    • Oct 8, 2015
  • AEC dumps ALEC

    No matter which side of the battle over global warming you're on, that was blockbuster news last week. No, not the signing of the climate-change treaty that commits all of Earth's 195 nations to lowering their greenhouse-gas emissions and slowing the heating of the planet, but American Electric Power's announcement that it would no longer underwrite efforts to block renewable energy or federal smokestack controls in the United States.
    • Dec 17, 2015

Most Shared

  • World leaders set to meet in Little Rock on resource access and sustainable development

    Next week a series of meetings on the use of technology to tackle global problems will be held in Little Rock by Club de Madrid — a coalition of more than 100 former democratic former presidents and prime ministers from around the world — and the P80 Group, a coalition of large public pension and sovereign wealth funds founded by Prince Charles to combat climate change. The conference will discuss deploying existing technologies to increase access to food, water, energy, clean environment, and medical care.
  • Tomb to table: a Christmas feast offered by the residents of Mount Holly and other folk

    Plus, recipes from the Times staff.
  • Fake news

    So fed up was young Edgar Welch of Salisbury, N.C., that Hillary Clinton was getting away with running a child-sex ring that he grabbed a couple of guns last Sunday, drove 360 miles to the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington, D.C., where Clinton was supposed to be holding the kids as sex slaves, and fired his AR-15 into the floor to clear the joint of pizza cravers and conduct his own investigation of the pedophilia syndicate of the former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state.
  • Reality TV prez

    There is almost nothing real about "reality TV." All but the dullest viewers understand that the dramatic twists and turns on shows like "The Bachelor" or "Celebrity Apprentice" are scripted in advance. More or less like professional wrestling, Donald Trump's previous claim to fame.
  • Arkansas archeologist does his job, is asked to leave

    Amid Department of Arkansas Heritage project.

Latest in Ernest Dumas

  • Fake news

    So fed up was young Edgar Welch of Salisbury, N.C., that Hillary Clinton was getting away with running a child-sex ring that he grabbed a couple of guns last Sunday, drove 360 miles to the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington, D.C., where Clinton was supposed to be holding the kids as sex slaves, and fired his AR-15 into the floor to clear the joint of pizza cravers and conduct his own investigation of the pedophilia syndicate of the former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state.
    • Dec 8, 2016
  • Fake economics

    Fake news is a new phenomenon in the world of politics and policy, but hokey economic scholarship has been around as long as Form 1040 and is about as reliable as the news hoaxes that enlivened the presidential campaign.
    • Dec 1, 2016
  • China in charge

    Let's turn to foreign affairs to see how we might calm the flood of anxieties over the coming Donald Trump presidency.
    • Nov 24, 2016
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

View Trumpeter Swans in Heber Springs

View Trumpeter Swans in Heber Springs

Magness Lake, in Heber Springs, is a magnet for swans

Event Calendar

« »

December

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

Most Viewed

  • Stay the course

    I am frustrated and angry with those who claim the only chance of future success is for the Democratic Party, especially in the South and Midwest, to abandon speaking directly to women and people of color and the LGBT community and instead focus on the economy and other "more comfortable" topics in order to win back some of the center.
  • Reality TV prez

    There is almost nothing real about "reality TV." All but the dullest viewers understand that the dramatic twists and turns on shows like "The Bachelor" or "Celebrity Apprentice" are scripted in advance. More or less like professional wrestling, Donald Trump's previous claim to fame.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Reality TV prez

    • And while we're at it, Runner, the Wisconsin recount isn't finished yet, but as of…

    • on December 9, 2016
  • Re: Reality TV prez

    • In fact, Runner, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 2.7 million and counting, just…

    • on December 9, 2016
  • Re: Stay the course

    • Thank you Autumn. I agree that we can not compromise an inch on the value…

    • on December 9, 2016
 

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation